Palo Alto's police quandary may hinge on massive development Around Town, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on Sep 6, 2012 at 7:19 pm
After years of failures and frustrations, Palo Alto has another shot now to build a new public-safety building that would replace the city's cramped and obsolete police headquarters in City Hall. But this time, the city's prospects for the new police buildings may hinge on the council's willingness to approve a colossal development that would significantly transform a section of Page Mill Road. Related story:
[Web Link Page Mill Road could see commercial influx]
Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, September 6, 2012, 5:41 PM
Posted by JoLe, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 6, 2012 at 7:19 pm
Keep them where they're at. They don't need any money invested in there division, if anything spend money on the main library, for recreational projects, and on our city. The police don't deserve to leach off of us, they already have power over all of us, so they're fine where they're at now.
Posted by alex, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 6, 2012 at 11:12 pm
JoLe: I'm with you. This whole thing stinks in so many ways.
?? (north neighborhood): Police buildings don't protect people.
But it's not the police, it's the developers and the money to be made. It's also irrationally scared Palo Altans who feel they're in danger. We live in one of the safest places around, no thanks to police buildings.
Posted by Pares, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 6, 2012 at 11:38 pm
"unsafe and vulnerable" since the blue ribbon commission several years ago? Sounds like the lawsuits based on this in the event of a disaster could pay much more..... But hey, our new, cost overrun library will sure look nice
Posted by More-Double-Talk-From-PA-Planners, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2012 at 7:59 am
Wonder why just a couple of weeks after the California Avenue project was given yet another endorsement by the City Council--who seemed to be saying that there were no new projects that would be bringing traffic into the area--now we see a number of new projects that are all certain to bring people, and traffic, into the California Avenue Business District.
Planning Department Director Fred Williams is not someone that can be trusted, it would seem, as he most certainly told the Council, and the public, that the traffic survey he commissioned "proved" that two lanes would carry all the traffic on California Avenue without any problems. He went on to claim that: "no new projects are planned for that area" (or words to that effect).
These are not the best and the brightest folks, but they are paid like they are. The RETIRED police chief makes over $400k, more than me, most of my neighbors, and the president. Time to put the C students in their place. This compensation is not where supply meets demand.
Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2012 at 11:10 am
I don't think the police and fire departments need a "palace", and that is not what is being proposed. The existing building does not meet code in many ways - seismically, it is a disaster waiting to happen. Only an ostrich thinks we'll never have another earthquake. This is the place that the emergency headquarters is supposed to be; it cannot function if its building falls down.
Another way the current building is non-compliant is in the area of police operations - interview rooms, separation of juveniles from adults, evidence storage, etc. This compromises criminal cases.
I am not at all sure this development is the right thing, but let's not confuse the development issue with the need for the public safety building.
Posted by Michael, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2012 at 11:12 am
Maybe instead of selling out to developers, the city could save some money by cutting our massive overpaid bureaucracy instead. The link in Joe's post is ripe with low hanging fruit:
Six figure total compensation street sweepers -- do we really need to pay a union worker this kind of benefit when the private sector would perform the job for less than half?
A bloated, ineffective planning department -- one of the worst in the area, yet recently rewarded with increased six figure positions?
A fire department that costs close to 200K per firefighter per year and that operates primarily as a bloated, over-provisioned medical service. Regionalization or privatization would save millions.
Defined benefit pensions that leave our kids stuck writing golden retirement checks to all of the above when they retire years before the private sector allows.
We have plenty of money. City leadership just chooses to waste it rewarding their special interest union masters. Change this first before either asking for more tax revenue or selling out our city interests to bribe-bearing developers.
Posted by Bob, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm
We have to get rid of this council fast. We need to revive the "Residentialist" party in Palo Alto fast - like now before this council bunch and the city 'planners' plan us out of house and home. What are thinking??? Is there any developer that this council has the guts to say NO to? We don't need a grandiose police building.and that is a bad location in the first place.
But do they listen. No...not this council or previous ones.
Posted by Not again, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm
"Only government workers believe they need to live in a palace."
No, it is not the government WORKERS, it is the government LEADERS who are mislead by government managers with false information, horrible estimates, horrible written contracts. They want a champagne project on a beer budget. Nothing wrong with the beer budget version. Build a new building within budget. They don't need all this high tech crap because it is not linked to any other government ageny to make it work anyway. IT CAN BE DONE ON A BEER BUDGET AND WITH PUBLIC FUNDS - not on the backs of workers. If there is a public building to built, it HAS to come from public funds (ie, Bond Measure) and NOT from the City general fund. Until City of Palo Alto Leaders (Council/Manager) get their s%#) together an be held accountable for existing funds/budgets, a bond for this will NEVER pass.
Posted by Insider, a resident of another community, on Sep 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm
"Palo Alto has enough libraries and a much smaller building would have sufficed."
Employees have felt this for years AND management has not listened. Palo Alto DOES NOT need all the libraries. Mountain View, Redwood City, Sunnyvale all have proven one library for all citizens is sufficient enough to sustain a good education and provide good services for the community. Libraries are not babysitters. Close neighborhood libraries that are sucking infrastructure monies when those monies could be used elsewhere.
Posted by Ex-employee, a resident of another community, on Sep 7, 2012 at 4:21 pm
Help me with your fuzzy math. The police chief made $195k his last year plus cashed out leave. He was hired before the sick leave cash out provision changed. So, he makes $195k a year and makes $400k more than you. Does that mean you pay someone $205k to work for them?
Plus he worked at the same place for 31 years. Everyone I know in the private sector changes jobs about every 5 years. He and his employer paid into the same pension fund for 31 years. The greedy private sector worker continually changes jobs looking for the big pay off. If they didn't invest well they must keep working. That's when they start to get jealous of public workers. So sad.
Posted by Midtowner, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm
As I understand it, the building that house the police department is not safe in case of an earthquake. It is my opinion that we need an operational police department in case of a tremor. We won't have that if they are in a pile of rubble after the quake.
The only problem is all the recent major new buildings in Palo Alto are UGLY, UGLY and in your face (Mitchell Park Library, JCC, Alma Plaza...) So, please, no matter what you do, don't build another monstrosity.
Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2012 at 5:20 pm
As a first pass, this looks like a reasonable deal to me. It solves a number of issues. And it is a compromise, among various interest groups. However, the devil is in the details. I suggest that we not let the perfect get in the way of the good.
Posted by Two cents?, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2012 at 6:15 pm
Has anyone asked the police officers (i.e the people who do the actual work in the building every day and night) if they really need a new building, or is this the idea of managers and senior staff? I don't know about you, but at my job we tend to think of a lot of the ideas of senior staff as ill concieved and can show you how they are not needed.
Posted by Karen, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm
Palo Alto is becoming an unattractive city. Palo Alto is looking more and more like Milpitas. Get rid of this ineffective city council and also the architectural review board. I thought city employees work for us. Obviously not.
Posted by Pares, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2012 at 9:35 pm
Mike it's a thing called OSHA. And there doesn't even need to be a disaster before someone sues based on the apparent need and the ignored report by independent commission. Grand juries say things like this all the time and towns jump at the chance to remedy those findings. PA? Does nothing. Once again our council places cockamamie ideas ahead of what is told they need to do. After all, infrastructure was their priority.
Posted by common sense, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2012 at 6:43 am
I think the city staff & several of the council members have not been transparent with the public on this development proposal. City staff & council members have been aware of this proposal when they were evaluating the California Avenue lane reduction. But during the California lane reduction debate, city staff says there were "no plans" for more development. However the city staff, nor Council members said anything about this proposal.
Council Members will bloviate on how all the additional housing will be using the train; but experience with the already existing condo develoments will show only a small minority use the train. And if Council Members ever took the time to visit the side streets of the neighborhood, they would see that adding so much housing will aggravate an already congested parking situation.
Posted by pat, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2012 at 12:21 am
This is one gift horse that SHOULD be looked in the mouth.
The proposal FAR exceeds city regulations: The office buildings would be 71 FEET TALL, the police building would be 61 FEET TALL! “Both are located within 40 feet of a residential zone, which means the properties have a height limitation of 25 FEET.”
As the article points out, “Even if the council agrees to make the exception and allow construction of the massive new structures, the city would still have to spend more than $30 million to make the projects possible.”
More-Double-Talk-From-PA-Planners is right. Quote from the 2010 traffic study: “According to the City of Palo Alto, there are no pending projects or planned projects in the foreseeable future. Therefore, traffic volumes on California Avenue between El Camino Real and Park Boulevard will remain unchanged with the current land uses.”
Do our so-called planners not consider 2 years “the foreseeable future”?
The Daily Post reported (9-7-12), “When asked whether the projects were related to the City Council-approved plan to reduce California Avenue from four lanes to two … Williams said, ‘Not really.’”
Why aren't council members demanding explanations? Where’s the outrage?
Posted by Kate, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2012 at 6:54 am
MOST of the people who work for the city do NOT live here. Their only civic pride is their bloated paycheck while they make the rules for the rest of us. We have a spineless city council, and city commissions seem to be out of touch. They can't stand up to ABAG. (When he was on the Bd. of Supervisors years ago, Joe Simitian was on the ABAG Board of Directors".) Ugly buildings are popping up all over - like Alma Plaza which took years of hassle before the first shovel of dirt was planned.And what will Edgewood Plaza look like? Residents could have solved that piece of land fifteen years ago before Frank Benest got his hands in it. This so called "Urban Design" is ruining the city. And then we have a clueless Planning Commission. P.S. Please save us from any more "Blue Ribbon Committees".
Posted by Helene, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2012 at 9:07 am
Massive devopment on Page Mill? What about the additional massive traffic on Oregon Expressway? There is so much traffic already, how will this colossal development address this issue? Our police need a safer and larger structure to do their work. Why not move them to the downtown library right across the street from City Hall? The building already exists and with a brand new library in Mitchell Park, we can close the downtown branch. Don't let a developer ruin our city by dangling the promise of a new police building. We are not fools in Palo Alto, lets not let this development happen.
Posted by George, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2012 at 10:50 am
>More-Double-Talk-From-PA-Planners is right. Quote from the 2010 traffic study: “According to the City of Palo Alto, there are no pending projects or planned projects in the foreseeable future. Therefore, traffic volumes on California Avenue between El Camino Real and Park Boulevard will remain unchanged with the current land uses.”
Posted by Karen White, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 11, 2012 at 10:36 am
A few thoughts:
1) The Police DO need a new building
2) The proposed Cal-Ave area is a perfect location for a police headquarters, for the operational synergy with the courthouse nearby
3) The proposed development is way too massive -- completely out of the ballpark and must be down-sized. But other than having a developer include a structure for police as part of a package, I'm not sure how we'll pay for a new facility. No way a bond measure for this would pass.